Thursday, February 05, 2009

Still Life

by Louise Penny

Many of you have read this book over the years. It was your enthusiastic reviews that encouraged me to pick this up. I loved it!

Still Life is the 1st of four in the Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series. This one is set in a village south of Montreal. I don't know if any of the others will continue with this same group of people or if Gamache will be tracking down the killer in another area. I can see that he may have to move to a different area if that's were the murder occurs, but I would love to come back to the same people in this book.

Penny does such a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters and making them real-life people. I felt like I wanted to move into the neighborhood and get together with those characters as they celebrate life. I wish I could have seen inside Jane's house. Don't you? (those of you that have read this) And didn't you really like Inspector Gamache? I wish I knew how to pronounce his name.

Last summer we visited Montreal and a cute little village southeast of Montreal named Knowlton. It was such a beautiful area and I pictured the little village in the book looking something like it. And there were some mention of 'Canadian' icons that I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't visited. I don't know how many Canadian Tires we passed on our trip before we learned it was an eating establishment and not a car hardware store. And when Ruth stood up at the funeral and started singing, "What do you do with a drunken sailor" I really enjoyed a good laugh. We listened to that and many other shantys as we drove for weeks through Canada. This book helped to rekindle those good memories I have of my visit to Canada.

I thought the mystery was a good tale and I didn't figure it out until it was obvious who the murderer was. In addition, the writing was superb. I used quite a few book darts to mark passages that I really liked. This passage about a mother of a troubled teenage boy brought me to tears:
"She'd tried praying, but had forgotten the words. Instead she kept repeating the only thing she could remember: Little Boy blue, come blow your horn, the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. She's recited it over and over to Philippe when he was little but now she couldn't remember the rest. It seemed to matter, even though it wasn't itself a prayer. it was more than that. It was proof she'd been a good mother. Proof she'd loved her children. Proof, whispered the little girl's voice inside her head, that it isn't your fault. But she couldn't remember the rest of the nursery rhyme. So maybe it was her fault."
This passage reminded me of the feelings I had when my father died:
"All Quiet of the western front, thought Gamache, listening to this gentle life. His magical thinking allowed him to be surprised that when such a good soul dies it isn't remarked. The bells of the church didn't set themselves off. The mice and deer didn't cry out. The earth didn't shudder. It should have."
I thought I had book 2 sitting on my shelf, but since I couldn't find it and didn't have it entered in Library Thing* I got online and ordered it. It's so fun to have it to look forward to.

*neither of these things guarantees it's not somewhere in my house since it's hit and miss with me.


Thoughts of Joy said...

HOORAY! I'm glad you loved this. It's a very good series. I just finished the latest (#4) and have been extremely pleased with all of them. You have some more good fun ahead of you. :)

I see you are reading An Incomplete Revenge. I love that series, too!

Zibilee said...

I think it's really neat that you related so much with this book. It's really cool when that happens. I also really liked the passage about the troubled teenager, it was a very tender way of expressing the sorrow and frustration that many mothers have gone through raising a troubled child.I had never heard of this series, but I will try to check it out. Thanks!

Tricia said...

I've been reading lots of mysteries lately, and this sounds like another great series!

Enjoy Maisie Dobbs!

Staci said...

I've never read this author but your review and the cover of the book makes me want to hunt it down right now!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you liked STILL LIFE. It is a lovely book and written by an even lovelier woman. Louise is very, very talented. And, you pronounce Gamache as "Guh-mash". Like mashed potatos. Or at least that's how I have heard the author pronounce it. The first 3 books are set in Three Pines. Book 4 takes Gamache and Reine-Marie, his wife, on vacation to another location.

jenclair said...

I have my first Louise Penney novel in the TBR pile! I had seen Kay's review and added it to my list. When I went to the library the other day, there was was a Louise Penney novel staring at me from the new book shelf--into the bag it went. Will have to read it soon.

Nice to know you are a fan as well!

Framed said...

I'm so glad you liked this. I have Book Two on the shelf and am ready to pick up Three and Four whenever I can.

Shelley said...

As wary as I am of getting into any new series, I've got to put this on future reads list. It sounds excellent.

Literary Feline said...

I recently picked up a copy of this while at the bookstore. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you for the great review!

Booklogged said...

Joy, what can I say - we both have good taste in mystery series!

Zibilee, I really identified with that quote. A teenager is always troubled at some point it seems and most of us wonder if we couldn't have done something different. I think you'll enjoy this series.

Tricia, I love mysteries especially in winter. On dreary days a good mysteries pulls us in so completely.

Staci, Louise Penny is an excellent writer. I think you will enjoy her books. I saw that her 4th is on the NY bestseller list.

Booklogged said...

Kay, thanks for your help. It helps to be able to pronounce the main character's name. Now I'm wondering if someone I met in this book will be the victim in book 2.

Jenclair, I look forward to your thoughts about Penny and her books. I'm hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Framed, it your review of Still Life that finally pushed me to read it. I wish I could pick the 2nd one up right away, but it hasn't arrived in the mail yet. Plus I have a few others I need to read first.

Shelley, I recognize your trepidation to start a new series. I have so many going that I want to finish.

LitFeline, I'm hoping you will enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Oh I DO like this series. I didn't realize until reading the comments that #4 was out, I was a little less in love with #3 but still enjoyed the characters and the secondary storyline very much. I'm definitely looking up #4 right now!

julie said...

Thanks for letting me know about this book - as soon as I can, I'll get my hands on it and read it!

SuziQoregon said...

I've got this on my TBR list too (after several great reviews by fellow book bloggers), but I'm really trying to focus on making progress in some of the series I've already got going. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to resist starting this now that I've seen yet another positive review.

You enabler you!!

Susan said...

I reviewed it last year - and gave a copy to my mother, who went and read it and the next 2! So now I have to catch up - I have book 2 and 3 waiting to be read, and your review is making me think perhaps today is the day.....but its' Valentine's Day, so I'm hoping for a spontaneous trip to the bookstore paid for by my husband! lol

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to put you on my blogroll, I thought you were already there. You're on now. I'[m still catching up to what i lost on my original template last summer!

and i'm so glad you came and visited us! We all grew up sinking the Drunken sailor song!! lol and Canadian Tire...truly Canadian :-)

Great post, thank you!!

Susan said...

singing, not sinking. singing the song!!!